Cricket shows the plight of street children on the street
CAMBRIDGE: Young Bengali Singing" We Want Our Rights" Was The Setting For Inauguration Street Child Cricket World Cup Bringing Teams From Around The World Together To Increase Awareness Of The Plight Of Marginalized Children.
Eight Mixed Gender Teams Fought This Weekend In The University City Of Cambridge, Where The Action Went Home Cricket At Lord's For Finals Day On Tuesday, Where India South Were Crowned Champions.
But It Was Difficult To Get The Players To Britain For The Event, With Teams Representing Countries Such As England, Mauritius And Nepal.
Bangladesh's Team Leader Forhad Hossain Had To Go To Court To Be Recognized As The Legal Guardian Of The Children So They Could Obtain Passports.
Both Zimbabwe And The Democratic Republic Of Congo Were No-shows Due To The Lengthy Visa Process.
The Tournament Is The Brain Of John Wroe , The CEO And Co-founder Of Street Child United, A British Charity That Uses Sport To Change The Negative Perceptions And Treatment Of Street-connected Children.
It Is The First To Be Hosted In Britain - There Are Three Football Versions In South Africa, Brazil And Russia.
Nizam, 15, Was Wrapped In A Bangladeshi Flag And Sported A Bandana With His Country's Colors On It, Showing His Patriotism Despite A Life On The Margins.
It Still Pains Him That He Ended Up On The Streets Collecting Garbage Aged Seven After A Deal With His Mother - His Father Had Remarried - And He Told AFP He Has No Contact With Either Her Or His Three Older Surviving Siblings.
Untitled-3 The teams line up in front of the Lords Pavilion before the Street Child Cricket World Cup Final. (AFP Photo)
However, Now He Is On The Right Path And Is Attending School Thanks To The Efforts Of Hossain And The Organization He Founded - LEEDO (Local Education And Economic Development Organization).
" I Have 54 Brothers And Sisters," Said Nizam, Referring To Other Children Who Live In The LEEDO Peace Home.
" I Spend My Free Time Going Round The Bus, Ferry And Train Stations Talking To The Homeless Children Who Congregate And Try To Motivate Them To Be Part Of The Schools Under The Sky Project."
Hossain Said He And His Fellow LEEDO Workers Have Rescued Around 2,000 Children Over The Past Four Years.
Nizam, Who Hopes To Become An Art Student, Is Able To Use The Platform Gained From Performing At The World Cup To Lobby Politicians When He Returns Home.
" The Politicians Don't Talk To The Children, They Only Have Time For Politics And Not Social Causes," He Said.
" When I Go Back I Will Try And Communicate With Policymakers And Ministers And Influence Them To Try To Make A Law For Children Or The Paths," Added Nizam, Who Prefers The Term To Street Children.
One of the characteristics of the Cricket tournament is the camaraderie between the different teams even if there is a winner at the end.
The Game Consists Of Five Four-ball Overs Per Innings - And Tanzania's Kudrack Led Team In Raucous Celebrations After They Won Their First Two Matches.
The Joy Of Victory, The Meeting With Former British Prime Minister John Major, The Patron Of The Tournament, And A Visit To The Houses Of Parliament Are A Far Cry From The Perilous Life The 16-year-old Lived On The Streets Of Mwanza Five Years Ago.
" Life On The Street Is Survival Of The Fit Test," Said AFP Through The Team Leader, Kanut Massanja, Who Did The Interpreting.
" When You Get Money From Begging, The Older Ones Will Catch It And Sometimes They Beat You.
" It's Not A Good Life On The Streets, It's Not Worth Living."
Miraculously 48-year-old Massanja, Through The Mwanza-based Pamoja Child And Youth Foundation He Founded, Has Reconnected The Teenager With His Family.
Massanja, Who Played A Central Role In The Selection Of The Tanzanian Football Team That Won The 2014 Street Child World Cup In Brazil, Said Kudrack's Uncle, Who Teaches At Secondary School He Attends, First Rejected Him But Changed His Mind Once He Became The Star Pupil.
Kudrack Though, Will, Like Nizam, Don't Forget The Streets They Came From.
" I Have Dreams And See Them Coming True Especially When I Am In School As I Am The Best Student," He Said.
" So I Am Praying I Continue To Help The Children As I Have Been Helped."